Let’s Talk Breed Education!
Something to THINK ABOUT BY HELENE NIETSCH, BANSTOCK BULLMASTIFF
I t is fair to say that if nature bred Bullmastiffs they would eventually deviate more toward looking like a big mutt. In order to maintain a Bullmastiff’s nearly-square appearance, square head and muzzle with its punishing mouth, its size, substance and bone, and the need for structural soundness, breeders and judges alike must be meticulous in selecting for correct type, size, structure, temperament and health so that the breed both looks like a Bullmastiff and can perform like a Bullmastiff. Over the past 30 years, the overall conformation of the Bullmas- tiff has made great strides. This has not happened by chance and came about through the conscientious efforts of breeders using selective breed- ing to optimize quality traits and eliminate faults as outlined in the breed standard. There are a few areas where we need to focus more attention. Two of these areas are splayed feet and cow hocks. These two faults are the only serious faults in the AKC Bullmastiff Standard (we don’t have any disquali- fications). Splayed feet and cow hocks are not only faulted in the AKC stan- dard, but are also basic structural faults in most breed standards. There is a great deal of reasoning behind why these two faults are considered “seri- ous.” Neither splayed feet nor cow hocks can exist as simple fault charac- teristics. In other words, both of these problems affect other characteristics
Illustration courtesy of the American Bullmastiff Illustrated Standard
“ SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
OUR STANDARD CALLS FOR ‘PASTERNS STRAIGHT, FEET OF MEDIUM SIZE, WITH ROUND TOES, WELL ARCHED’—ESSENTIALLY A CAT FOOT. THEREFORE, ONE CAN SEE HOW THE QUALITY OF SOUNDNESS
within the breed standard and cannot standalone as simple faults. Bullmastiffs must possess the strength and endurance referred to in our breed standard. When feet are splayed, the fleshy part of the foot is exposed, unprotected, and easily traumatized. Splay–footed animals usually have longer toes as well and are sometimes down in the pastern which makes them more susceptible to fractures. Our standard calls for “pasterns straight, feet of medium size, with round toes, well arched”—essentially a cat foot. Therefore, one can see how the quality of soundness and endurance is compro- mised in a Bullmastiff with splayed feet, not to mention contrary to our standard. Cow hocks affect strength and proper movement and the dog’s ability to track properly and utilize the power in its hindquarters. As a Bullmastiff moves and accelerates to the point of breaking stride and running, the feet should converge under the body and be in- line, attempting to converge below the dog. In mild to moderately cow–hocked animals this is extremely difficult. In severely cow– hocked animals it is impossible as the hocks would actually collide. The amount of power that is possible from a cow-hocked rear is also limited. The limitations in both of these serious faults hinder the dog’s ability to do its historic work and make him virtually useless to the gameskeeper. There are two other areas that I believe require further consid- eration: Toplines and tailsets. “Topline: Straight and level between withers and loin.” Straight and level, not sloping, nearly square, back short; key words to describe a Bullmastiff’s outline. A one- piece dog with a smooth outline is very desirable. Some Bullmas- tiffs, however, have an excess of skin along their topline, particu- larly on their shoulders. Although not always pleasing to the eye, if the outline remains correct and there is not wrinkle from tip of nose to tip of tail, a small amount of wrinkle over the shoulder should not be heavily faulted. If you feel the difference between the thickness of the skin in a Bullmastiff and a Rhodesian Ridgeback, you could understand this feature. The Bullmastiff worked in often harsh weather. It is a thick-skinned dog to protect against weather, the heavy brush and, ultimately, the dagger of the poacher. “Tail: Set on high, strong at the root and tapering to the hocks. It may be carried straight or curved, but never carried hound fash- ion.” There is no need for a Bullmastiff’s tail to be carried up, it is not waving at the hunter (gameskeeper) to locate the dog or the game (poacher). In fact, it would be a deterrent to warn the poacher of its presence. We see far too many tails carried too high, some over the back. It takes away the seriousness of the look of a Bullmastiff, throws off the look of balance in the silhouette, and (my opinion) just plain unattractive!
” Some faults are, of course, more serious than others depending on the breed, lack of breed type being the most serious of all faults. Should a light eye be more heavily faulted than a lack of balance or an unsound rear assembly? Is a poor tail set a more significant flaw than a weak front or sagging topline? Are not the goals of the judge the same as the breeder? Both have the responsibility to this sport to select the best dogs to make the next generation better than the previous. Both have the opportunity to improve the breed and this article points out only a few features to pay attention to and think about. It is the judge or breeder with a true eye for quality who can sort through the minor imperfections to find that special and rare thing we call true quality. Dog breeding is about protecting a breed, not about one great win or winner. Seasoned, ethical breeders don’t settle for just good enough, but strive for the very best for future generations. Let’s hope that someday we can produce consistency in litters that are bred for correct breed type and are evaluated and judged with a keen, educated eye… the eye of an esteemed judge, the wisdom of a master breeder. AND ENDURANCE IS COMPROMISED IN A BULLMASTIFF WITH SPLAYED FEET, NOT TO MENTION CONTRARY TO OUR STANDARD.
THE AKC STANDARD The American Kennel Club approved changes to the standard submitted by the American Bullmastiff Association, the parent club for the breed, on February 8, 1992.
The amended standard went into effect March 31, 1992. Geraldine Shastid , a noted Bullmastiff judge, explains and expands on the points made in the standard. Her comments are in italics, in between the pertinent sections of the standard.
OFFICIAL STANDARD FOR THE BULLMASTIFF
GENERAL APPEARANCE That of a symmetrical animal, showing great strength, endurance and alertness; pow- erfully built but active. The foundation breeding was 60%Mastiff and 40% Bulldog. The breed was developed in England by gamekeepers for protection against poachers. This introductory paragraph describes the overall physical impression of the Bullmastiff, the antecedents that gave it a unique type and the purpose for which the breed was intended. In other words, it outlines a strong working dog and emphasizes structure, type and function. All three of these elements were present in the early Bullmastiff, as they are in Bullmastiffs today. SIZE, PROPORTION, SUBSTANCE Size— Dogs, 25 to 27 inches at the withers and 110-130 pounds weight. Bitches, 24-26 inches at the withers and 100-120 weight. Other things being equal, the more substantial dog within these limits is favored. Proportion —The length from tip of breastbone to rear of thigh exceeds the height from withers to ground only slightly, resulting in a nearly square appearance. Not a giant dog; the ideal height of the Bullmastiff has remained generally the same over the years in most written standards. The weight, however, has been increased since the first Bullmastiffs were registered and is now also slightly greater for bitches than the current British standard permits. A premium is put on substance, within the limits of the standard, meaning muscle and bone rather than bulk and fat. This substance should never be at the expense of the required elements of power, endurance, agility and activity mentioned under General Appearance. Although not actually one of the square breeds, the ideal Bullmastiff should always have a square appearance. The closer a dog approaches a noticeably rectangular silhouette, the less correct it is on this point — an element that helps differentiate the breed from the Mastiff. A balanced Bullmastiff should have a deep body that is approximately one half of its total height at the withers (top of the shoulder). One should also remember that although width is not men- tioned in this part of the standard, to be a "symmetrical" and "powerfully built" Bullmastiff, a dog should possess sufficient width to balance its height and length when viewed from any angle. When viewed from above, the width of the front, the ribs and the rear should be equal. HEAD-EXPRESSION Keen, alert and intelligent. Eyes— Dark and of medium size. Ears— V-shaped and carried close to the cheeks, set on wide and high, level with occiput and cheeks, giv- ing a square appearance to the skull; darker in color than the body and medium in size. Skull— Large, with a fair amount of wrinkle when alert; broad, with cheeks well developed. Forehead flat. Stop— Moderate. Muzzle— Broad and deep; it's length, in
by GERALDINE SHASTID
THE AKC STANDARD: OFFICIAL STANDARD FOR THE BULLMASTIFF
comparison with that of the entire head, approximately as 1 is to 3. Lack of foreface with nostrils set on top of muzzle is a reversion to the Bulldog and is very undesir- able. A dark muzzle is preferable. Nose— Black, with nostrils large and broad. Flews— Not too pendulous. Bite— Preferably level or slightly undershot. Canine teeth large and set wide apart. The standard gives its greatest emphasis to the section on the head for two reasons: because the head is composed of so many individual parts and because a good head iden- tifies the dog as a Bullmastiff rather than a Bulldog, a Boxer or a small Mastiff. Taken as a whole, the head should have a square appearance, just as should the overall body structure. One of the characteristics the breed legitimately inher- ited from its Bulldog ancestors is a broad, shortened skull. The Bullmastiff lacks what is known in other breeds as backskull. This means that the occipital bone on a Bull- mastiff is set between the ears, rather than extending to some point behind them, as in the Mastiff. Viewed from the top, the portion of the head from the stop to the occiput should roughly equal the width of the head from cheekbone to cheekbone, but not including the cheek muscles which should also be clearly present on a good representative Bullmastiff head. For symmetry, the head should be approximately as deep as it is wide, thus forming a padded cube. An old rule of thumb was that the circumference of the head, mea- sured from a point in front of the ears, should be equal to or slightly greater than the height of the dog from ground to withers. Ideally, the muzzle is to be broad and deep with a length in profile that is one third of the entire head from tip of the nose to the occiput—in other words, one-third muzzle, two-thirds head (skull length). The width of the muzzle should be approximately the same as the length and the depth, forming a padded block that is securely attached to the square head. Some slight wrinkling across the muzzle may be per- mitted, but a Bullmastiff should never have so much nor so little wrinkle on the forehead that the expression and wrinkle pattern on the head does not change when the dog is alert and comes to full attention. This point is functional as well as aesthetic, because it serves as a form of commu- nication between dog and owner and has been prized since early gamekeeper's days. The dark, medium size eyes are set wide apart to allow a full range of vision and to avoid injury to both at one time in a skirmish with man or beast. Cosmetically, they square off the center area of the face and contribute immensely to the keen, alert and intelligent expression. Few faults are mentioned in the AKC standard, so when a particular characteristic is pointed out, it should be carefully noted" "Lack of foreface with nostrils set on top of the muzzle is a reversion to the Bulldog and is very undesirable." This is not to be confused with a pugnacious chin resulting from an undershot jaw. To differentiate between the two, look at the angle of the nose as it departs from the bridge of the muzzle. In profile, if the front of the nose forms a 45-degree angle with the top line of the nose, it should not generally be considered a reversion to the Bulldog. A far more common nose fault in Bullmastiffs are small or pinched nostrils.
BIS BISS Ch. Ladybug Shastid Brahminson, a Gold Register of Merit producer.
The mouth is broad and the canine teeth set wide to square off the jaw. It has been argued that the level bite is not normally considered functional. In the case of the Bullmastiff, which was developed to knock down and hold a man without mauling or inflicting unnecessary injuries, this type of bite is indeed suited to the purpose. The very " inefficiency" of the level or slightly undershot bite allows a person to be held without much of the ripping or slashing often encountered with the scissors or pincer bite found in many of the herding or guarding breeds. Excessive flews would be a hindrance to a dog attempting to securely hold a struggling felon. Aesthetically, the deep, square lower muzzle should come from strength and depth of underjaw and not from an illusion created by floppy flews. Ears are V-shaped and darker in color than the body. Although a dog may be forgiven for not possessing black ears, the darker coloring should be preferred by breeders to prevent loss of pigmentation on this point. When alert, the ears come forward slightly and frame the top half of the face. The ears should not be large, but rather in proportion to the head. Well set ears of correct size and shape greatly enhance the expression and contribute to the overall square look. Although the AKC standard only remarks that the dark muzzle is preferred, it is probably best for breeders to strive for the black muzzle and masking con- sidered essential by the British and Canadian standards. A Bullmastiff with a faded or absent mask departs from accepted breed type for showing or breeding and ranges uncomfortably close to the coloration of the Dogue de Bordeaux. The head is therefore one of the signature characteristics of type in the Bull- mastiff and should never be such that there could be the slightest confusion with the Mastiff, Bulldog, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Dogue de Bordeaux or any other breed. NECK, TOPLINE, BODY Neck— Slightly arched, of moderate length, very muscular and almost equal in circumference to the skull. Topline— Straight and level between withers and loin. Body— Compact. Chest wide and deep, with ribs well sprung and well set down between the forelegs. Back— Short, giving the impression of a well balanced dog. Loin— Wide, muscular and slightly arched, with a fair depth of flank. Tail— Set on high, strong at the root and tapering to the hocks. It may be straight or curved, but never carried hound fashion. This section of the standard describes a thick, powerful, compact dog that is capable of working. Compactness and a short, level back are the keys to the ideal, well-balanced Bullmastiff body. The tail is set on high and should be an exten- sion of the topline. Low-set tails have become common-place, as well as equally incorrect rounded croups more appropriate to coursing dogs. A sudden drop in the croup ruins the square outline and weakens the stability needed for the dog to keep its balance when subduing an intruder.
THE AKC STANDARD: OFFICIAL STANDARD FOR THE BULLMASTIFF
“THE DOG COMBINES THE RELIABILITY, INTELLIGENCE AND WILLINGNESS TO
PLEASE REQUIRED IN A DEPENDABLE FAMILY COMPANION AND PROTECTOR.”
White markings are a fault in all Bullmastiff standards and should be penalized to the extent of the marking. A large amount of white is a larger fault, but unless extensive, it should never be con- sidered with the same severity as splayed feet, cowhocks or a rever- sion to the Bulldog. GAIT Free, smooth and powerful. When viewed from the side, reach and drive indicate maximum use of the dog's moderate angulation. Back remains level and firm. Coming and going, the dog moves in a straight line. Feet tend to converge under the body without crossing over as speed increases. There is no twist- ing in or out at the joints. The gait described is the simple, correct movement expected from a working dog with moderate angulation and a compact, nearly square body. Occasionally a Bullmastiffwill single track but the breed should not be expected to do so. The single tracking Bullmastiff should not be confused with a dog that crosses over in its movement. This view differs from the current Canadian standard which asks Bullmastiffs to track in two parallel lines and makes no mention of convergence or single tracking. Many novice owners mistake speed for good movement. A smooth, moderate trot reveals much more about a dog's soundness and struc- ture than the racing speed often seen in the show ring. As a judge, I am always skeptical when a dog is presented at what I consider excessive speed. Although good movement should be prized, it should receive no extra recognition if it comes as a benefit of a fault of type. Specifi- cally, a Bullmastiff should get no extra credit for outstanding move- ment if it lacks the essential compactness and nearly square outline or if it achieves that exceptional movement as a benefit of incorrect type and structure. TEMPERAMENT Fearless and confident yet docile. The dog combines the reliability, intelligence and willingness to please required in a dependable family companion and protector. Fearless and confident yet docile. To put it in very simple terms, a Bullmastiff must own the ground it stands on. Docile means to easily teach or manage, not dull or spiritless. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Geraldine Shastid is a lifetime member of the American Bullmastiff Association, an international judge and a breeder/ owner-handler of National Specialty Best of Breed/All-Breed Best in Show/Register of Merit Bullmastiffs. Gerry was a member of the standard revision committee in 1992 and serves as a parent club approved mentor. Along with her late husband, Jack Shastid, she is an author, historian and devoted fancier of over 50 years.
FOREQUARTERS Shoulders— Muscular but not loaded and slightly sloping. Fore- legs— Straight, well boned and set well apart; elbows turned neither in nor out. Pasterns— straight, feet of medium size with round toes well arched. Pads— thick and tough, nails black. HINDQUARTERS Broad and muscular, with well developed second thigh denoting power but not cumbersome. Moderate angulation at hocks. Cow- hocks and splay feet are serious faults. Although these opposite ends of the dog are treated separately in the standard, they must be considered together to achieve the proper bal- ance and symmetry. Shoulders are slightly sloping to go with the strong, straight pasterns and the moderate angulation at the hock. It is reason- able to assume that if the hocks are moderately bent, the stifles will be moderately angulated as well. Cow hocks and splay feet are designated as serious faults and should not be tolerated. Although splay feet are men- tioned under the heading of hindquarters, they are an equally serious fault on the front feet. Similarly, thick, tough pads and black nails are not just requirements on the front feet. The dog is the sum of its parts and the way they fit together. COAT Short and dense, giving good weather protection. A short, dense coat is less likely to collect mud and debris and is less exposed to the elements than a longer, slightly open one. The British penal- ize long, silky and woolly coats in their standard and require the hair- coat to lie flat against the body. The AKC standard simply states what is acceptable and expects common sense to exclude the occasional longhaired Bullmastiff from the show ring and the breeding program. COLOR Red, fawn or brindle. Except for a very small white spot on the chest, white markings are considered a fault. Although brindle was the color preferred by early gamekeepers, for many years brindle dogs were at a disadvantage in the show ring. But in the past decade, many serious breeders have made concentrated efforts to produce outstanding brindle Bullmastiffs. As a result, they are seen in increasing numbers every year. Solid fawns and reds should ideally have clear, even colored coats. BIS BISS Ch. Ladybug’s Lady Caitlin, TD. Pictured winning her second national specialty under the late Jack Shastid.
BULLMASTIFF INTERVIEWS submitted by American Bullmastiff Association, Inc.
1. Where do you live? 2. What do you do “outside” of dogs? 3. How important are head and body proportions in the Bullmastiff ? 4. Does the average person on the street recognize him for what he is? 5. Is there a color preference/prejudice in the show ring? 6. Are there any misconceptions about the breed you’ d like to dispel? 7. What special challenges do breeders face in our current eco- nomic and social climate? 8. At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness (or lack thereof)? 9. What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? 10. What’s the best way to attract newcomers to your breed and to the sport? 11. As an AKC Judge, what is your opinion of dog shows today and how do you see the future of the sport? 12. What is your ultimate goal for the breed? 13. What is your favorite dog show memory? 14. Is there anything else you’ d like to share about the breed? DENISE BORTON Number of years judging Bullmastiffs: I judged my first sweepstakes in 1993 and I am licensed to judge 24 Working breeds with full or nearly full credit to apply in the remain- ing 12. I have judged numer- ous specialties and supported entries in the United States and Canada, the Bullmastiff Club of Victoria annual specialty in Australia and the ABA national specialty in 2013. In 2018, I was the all-breed judge for the American Bullmastiff Association Top 25. Breed Involvement: I have loved the breed for 49 years and counting. I’ve attended national specialties in the US, Canada, Norway, Switzerland and Crufts. I bred the first triple-titled (long before agility was a recognized event) Bullmastiff, Ch. Lady V’s Hot Shot Shelah, CDX TD who was also the first to earn the TD title. I was the top owner-handler for four consecutive years with Ch. Ladybug’s Lady Caitlin, TD who won seven all-breed BIS, two national specialty BOB, two regional specialty BOB, two supported entry BOB, 64 Group placements, 28 Group One, BOB/Westmin- ster KC, the fourth to earn a TD and whose conformation record stands today as the #3 Bullmastiff/top-winning bitch of all time. I also breeder/owner-handled Ch. Ladybug’s Heartlink to Cait, TD who earned all championship points from the BBE class and was the seventh to earn a TD. With this bitch, I won BOS back-to-back at our national specialty in 2001 and 2002. Her littermate brother, Ch. Ladybug Shastid Brahminson, was an all-breed BIS winner as well as a Gold ROM producer
Dog Club Service/Offices/Recognition: I am a lifetime mem- ber of the ABA and a member of the Midwest Bullmastiff Fanciers (49 years). I have served as an ABA director (14 years), committee member for Judge’s Education, assistant editor to the ABA Bul- letin (five years), ABA Futurity Chair (12 years), ABA national specialty show secretary (four years), tracking test secretary/chair (three years), involved with health and research opportunities/ blood draws/Broad Institute (five years), various national specialty committee positions (14 years), certificates of appreciation from the ABA (three years), formal recognition in outside publications (six different books) that include Caitlin’s picture and accomplish- ments, author of seven articles for the Hoflin Annual and was the recipient of the AKC Outstanding Sportsmanship Award in 2009. I live in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the southwest corner of the “Mitten.” My degree is in Agricultural Science with a double minor in biology and chemistry. I retired after 28 years with the Upjohn Company, bench trained in veterinary pathology, conducting and writing the clinical phase of drug safety studies for the FDA. I am very proud of my eleven grandchildren and eight great-grandchil- dren and have been married to their grandfather for 39 years. I enjoy raising beef cattle, gardening, orchid growing, quilting and travel—when time permits. How important are head and body proportions in the Bullmas- tiff? The headpiece and nearly square profile defines the Bullmas- tiff in the Working Group and sets it apart from other breeds. A Bullmastiff is identified by its headpiece. A dog that does not have the correct “square on a square” head might as well be a mongrel. Since the head is the business end of the dog, its function is to ram and hold. The standard is very clear in describing the expression, ears, skull, muzzle, stop, nose, flews and bite. The majority of the language in the standard is dedicated to the description of the head. The Bullmastiff accompanied the Gamekeeper at night to protect not only his master, the territory they covered, take out the poacher’s dog and apprehend a desperate individual who could be punished by death. The Bullmastiff had to be fit, athletic and mindful of its purpose to perform its ancestral duty; they were never intended to be simple companions or dogs of royalty. While there is no longer a modern-day use for the Bullmastiff, breeding correct and true to the standard dogs that are well received in performance events, all- breed Groups and Best in Show rings is a form of art, not an exact science. This is what allows a Bullmastiff to be uniquely different from one another and more specifically from any other breed. Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? Most likely not. The Bullmastiff is often mistaken for other Molossor breeds or incredibly—dogs from another Group. Is there a color preference/prejudice in the show ring? There should not be, but self-colored dogs seem to be rewarded more than brindles. The brindle is the preferred color for the Gamekeeper at night, blending in with the features of the landscape and dark- ness. Additionally, the brindle is prized by breeders to maintain correct pigment. The biggest misconception about the Bullmastiff? Tempera- ment that is appropriate for any Working Dog is usually not the same as a dog from another Group. The Bullmastiff was an inde- pendent worker and lived with the Gamekeeper and his family. They are to be confident and fearless, protector of family and home. That does not mean dull, spiritless or unreliable. Most Bullmastiffs tolerate and even enjoy showing in the conformation ring and par- ticipating in performance events. However, never assume them to be tolerant of being stared at, hovered over during a physical exam,
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AMERICAN BULLMASTIFF ASSOCIATION, INC. Q&A
The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? My advice to those who are beginning in the breed is to be mindful of the quality of the Bullmastiff that they have to move forward with. Showing or breeding for convenience sake rather than what is compatible in the pedigree, virtues or faults, can be unfortunate. Showing and breeding begins with honestly evaluating the dogs being used as breeding stock and considering health, temperament and records in the stud pen and/or whelping box of the pedigree. Breeding and showing mediocre dogs that have little or nothing to contribute to the gene pool can be devastating not only for a breed- ing program but for future of the breed as well. As an AKC Judge, what is my opinion of dog shows today and how do I see the future of the sport? There are too many shows and not enough good judges. There should be more opportunities for youth/junior/pee wee events as they are the true future of the sport. My ultimate goal for the breed? We have had some lovely dogs who have made positive contributions to the gene pool, dedicated owners who have achieved historical firsts and fanciers who have championed health research. What has been discouraging is the number of Bullmastiffs in rescue situations. The ABA has spent an exhausting amount of money removing dogs from neglectful/abu- sive situations and restoring health to those who deserve far better than what they received. We have an excellent volunteer network to foster and provide the funds necessary to help these dogs through fund raising efforts, fostering, transporting and positive identifica- tion at shelters. The breed will always need dedicated fanciers at the ready for situations such as these. Breeders are becoming more aware of health issues that plague the breed and are more diligent in screening and selectively breeding to avoid them. Not always, not all breeders, but still a majority. The Bullmastiff will continue to increase in popularity as it has already in the past ten years. Breeders and owners need to be very aware of the risks that are involved when a breed is positively or negatively cast in the public eye. We should all consider ourselves stewards of the future for the dogs we love. We have globally man- aged to protect and ensure the welfare of the Bullmastiff for the generations ahead. My favorite dog show memory? I have won our national spe- cialty twice with the same bitch, the first to be awarded by an all- breed judge (Anne Clark) and breeder judge (Jack Shastid). Ch. Ladybug’s Lady Caitlin, TD was the first to win the national as a dual titlist and she won three Best in Shows in a row at one cluster. To date, she is the winningest bitch of all time (#3 Bullmastiff ) with seven all-breed best in shows, 64 group placements (28 group one), 96 best of breed out of 124 times shown. Outside of the conforma- tion ring, I enjoyed tracking. With Cait (the fourth of the breed to earn the TD), I worked very hard to get her to retrieve the article as Bullmastiffs are not natural retrievers. At the end of her TD track, she indicated the glove, picked it up and started to bring it to me. I was so excited to get the pass, I grabbed it out of her mouth and shot my hand up as required. So much for all the work to get her to retrieve! In my lifetime, I would like to see our breed longer-lived than what it is now. We have some afflictions that were unheard of when I first started in the breed almost 50 years ago. Progressive retinal atrophy, cardiomyopathy, sub-aortic stenosis, renal disease, hypo- thyroidism and orthopaedic problems such as elbow dysplasia were rarely identified. It was not unusual to have dogs living well into the double digits of 12-14 years of age. Now, we have dogs dropping dead of cancer as young as two years old. As a rapidly growing, heavy-boned breed, the Bullmastiff can be prone to joint problems if it is not carefully managed as a young puppy. There are oppor- tunities to participate at the national specialty by donating blood for the Broad Institute at MIT and the AKC has the wonderful Canine Health Foundation. These particular groups are very keen
or approached from the rear. Do not discount puppies or juveniles who are unsure and a bit hesitant in the ring, but never compensate an adult who acts shy or timid. Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? Bullmastiffs excel and compete in performance with those breeds that are considered high achievers in those events. They are will- ing, capable and intelligent with an occasional stubborn streak. With the compatible owner and family, they delight in pleasing and participating in those activities that especially require the physical and mental capacity to do what they were originally bred for. We have CT, UDX, UT and many other high end titlists now in the breed. These same dogs could easily accompany the Gamekeeper for weeks, months and years. Owner-handlers are now winning in the Breed, Group and Best in Show rings. Bitches are getting their long-deserved recognition and instead of being retired to the whelp- ing box after earning their championship, they go on to a longer campaign. I love to hear of Bullmastiffs participating as therapy dogs in any situation, with children, hospital/nursing home resi- dents and veterans. We are so fortunate that the breed is inherently self-assured, stable and can adapt to almost any situation without missing a beat. What special challenges do breeders face in our current eco- nomic and social climate? Often times the media will incorrectly describe an unfortunate incident involving a Bullmastiff when it wasn’t really a Bullmastiff at all. Typically, it might include other Molossor breeds, but unless the fancy is aware of the situation, we are powerless to defend the breed. We do have Meet the Breed booths at various dog shows across the country and dedicated own- ers and breeders try their best to educate the public about the Bull- mastiff. Breeders must also be very careful in screening potential buyers so that the puppy does not fall into the wrong hands. All too often the entertaining and amusing ways of a puppy quickly become annoying and threatening as a juvenile when the behavior was not corrected initially. Bullmastiffs are not for everyone and as longtime breeder Carol Beans has often said, she judges the com- patibility of a prospective buyer by the way their children behave. If the children are disrespectful and out of control, she doesn’t sell that family a pup. I cannot think of one circumstance where increased popularity has benefited a breed. We now have Bullmastiffs in mov- ies, television commercials and owned by celebrities. This media attention can be very harmful to any breed when high exposure to the public creates a high demand to produce more dogs. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? While I am not known as a breeder, but rather an owner-handler, I can only comment on the handful of litters I have bred and the puppies that I have been involved with. Some breeders will men- tion that they can pick out an exceptional puppy at birth, but I often wonder if sentiment doesn’t play a big role in that decision. A Bullmastiff is a slow growing, large breed with some lines maturing more quickly than others. By the age of six to nine months, there should be obvious physical and mental characteristics that would help a breeder evaluate the puppy to see if it could be competitive in the conformation or performance ring. The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Judges need to consider and reward proper headtype without being “headhunters” and fault judging. Remember to heed the excellent advice of Mrs. Anne Clark, “First choose the individu- als in your ring with the best of breed type and then reward the soundest of those typey individuals.” I wish judges would reward honest dogs regardless of who is on the other end of the lead and have the confidence to place those dogs ahead of inferior dogs that may benefit from professional handlers and advertising. I see nothing but positive and promising strides towards improving the Bullmastiff so that it is capable of competing with all breeds in all events.
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AMERICAN BULLMASTIFF ASSOCIATION, INC. Q&A
are Working Dogs, a guard breed, dogs with independent intelli- gence, prodigious strength, and strong will. We all know that there are exceptions to that description, but most Bullmastiffs require early socialization and training and thrive if they have regular exer- cise and jobs to do. Whether guarding the property, showing in the conformation ring, working in agility, obedience, or tracking, Bullmastiffs form strong bonds with their owners and want to have something to occupy their minds and bodies. The old saying that “a tired puppy is a good puppy” can be true for the life of a Bullmas- tiff. Inactivity does not suit their nature. They do love their couch time and their people, but they need to be given routines, rules, and put to work. We also often hear that “Bullmastiffs are naturally good with children.” We are quick to point out that the Bullmastiffs and the children all need to be trained about appropriate behavior and boundaries and always supervised in their interactions. Even as puppies, Bullmastiffs are large dogs and can easily knock down children if not given the necessary training they need to develop house manners and methods of interacting with people large and small, young and old. If that advice is followed, Bullmastiffs are excellent family companions and are prized for their willingness to please their people and to protect them. What special challenges do breeders face in our current econom- ic and social climate? All breeders face challenges when it comes to breeding according to the Breed Standard and improving upon the previous generation. Economically, it is a fact that large dogs are more expensive to feed, house, and to keep healthy. They are a major investment in terms of time and money, not to mention emotion. Physically healthy dogs are less expensive and also less stressful, of course, and good health with proper health testing is important in any responsible breeding program. It is crucial to test animals used in a breeding program and to strive to eliminate health problems that can interfere with quality of life and add unnecessarily to the expenses involved in owning large dogs. When it comes to societal acceptance, we want to ensure that our dogs can live full lives as good citizens. We need to be particularly careful, especially with large, guard dogs, about not only physical health, but also about temperament. We strive to breed dogs with correct conformation, of course, but nothing is more difficult to live with than a dog with an incorrect temperament, a dog unusually aggressive and/or fear- ful. As breeders, we must breed with all facets of the dog in mind, physical and mental, and we must be prepared to take responsibility for our dogs, always, and for any reason. The shelters are full of dogs that were once adorable puppies. Now, more than ever, we need to be responsible for the dogs we bring into the world. At what age do we start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? That depends upon which of us you ask! We often end up keeping a couple of puppies, most often because the one who catches the eye of one of us is not the keeper identified by the other. Sometimes a show prospect is evident right away, as was the case with one of our boys in a recent litter. He is fulfilling that very early promise, grow- ing up well and doing some winning. Sometimes, though, we keep a puppy for a very different reason and that puppy ends up surprising us. We had a large litter and a couple of the girls were several days behind and much smaller than the other puppies. One little girl was somewhat overlooked in early evaluations. We worked really hard to get her caught up and thriving, but kept her mostly because she was so tiny. We wanted to be sure she continued to develop well. She has grown up beautifully and just won a BISS before the age of two, breeder/owner-handled by Vince. Over the years, we have, as everyone has, kept the wrong dog and also sold the wrong one, more than once. The best part about those kinds of mistakes is that the dogs have wonderful lives as family companions and do not miss being part of our program at all.
on mapping out genome markers for DNA sequencing and research is funded in part by contributions to them. It’s only through this type of honest and voluntary participation by breeders and owners that we will be able to identify the maladies that are taking our dogs way too early.
VINCE GRLOVICH & LINDYWHYTE
We are Vince Grlovich and Lindy Whyte, Tryumphe Bullmastiffs. We live outside of Washington, Pennsylva- nia, which is approximately thirty miles south of Pittsburgh. Vince is currently Vice President of Sales and Marketing for a local company and has worked in marketing for more than 30 years. Lindy is a retired teacher and librarian. We breed, raise, train, rescue, live with, and love Bullmastiffs. Our family also includes a few Frenchies, a Clumber, a cat, and a couple of horses. We were
married and got our first Bullmastiff in 1996, while living on the southside of Pittsburgh. We chose a Bullmastiff for several reasons, in part because Vince’s work took him out of town and out of the country quite often and we wanted a dog who would protect us and our home. We soon moved to ten rural acres outside Washington, Pennsylvania, where we have been for more than 20 years. We breed only occasionally, in order to move our breeding program forward, are members of the American Bullmastiff Association, volunteers with the American Bullmastiff Association Rescue Service and have served the club in a number of volunteer roles. How important are head and body proportions in the Bullmas- tiff? Anyone reading our Bullmastiff Breed Standard will note that the Bullmastiff can be considered a “head breed” and that a great deal of detail is utilized in describing the size, shape, and propor- tions of a correct Bullmastiff head. The dog is not a Bullmastiff without a proper headpiece, which evolved as did the Bullmastiff ’s job. While that part of the animal is important, the headpiece does not do the whole job the Bullmastiff was bred to do, a job that requires a nearly square and substantial dog capable of a burst of speed and the strength to take down and hold an intruder. Balance, bone, and back are so important in this working dog. Form really does follow function and the Breed Standard has to be our template. Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? Many people do recognize a Mastiff breed, but most do not immediately differentiate between a Bullmastiff and, say, a Boerboel, Dogue de Bourdeaux, Mastiff, or even a Neapolitan. We take the opportunity to educate folks and to point out the characteristics of our breed. We enjoy answering questions about the Bullmastiff and explain- ing the similarities and differences when it comes to mastiff breeds. Is there a color preference/prejudice in the show ring? We have been showing our Bullmastiffs for about 25 years and we have noticed fads or trends when red dogs are more popular, or when fawns become more prevalent. We began with a couple of brindles and both of us still have a soft spot for them. Brindle was the origi- nal preference for breeders of the “gamekeeper’s night dog,” as it served as effective camouflage. Brindles can be challenging, espe- cially when it comes to a campaign. We have found that the con- sensus is that brindles can be more difficult for judges to evaluate. The biggest misconception about the Bullmastiff? There are several misconceptions we could address, but probably the most dangerous and the most difficult to dispel is the preconception that “Bullmastiffs are big, smushy couch potatoes.” Bullmastiffs
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AMERICAN BULLMASTIFF ASSOCIATION, INC. Q&A
share my passion for breeding and showing dogs. It is a big part of all of our lives. I worked as the manager of a veterinary hospital for 30 years. I have been breeding and training dogs for almost as many years. I started in 1980 with Rottweilers and Escalade Bullmastiffs, but in 1990, I chose to focus my attention on the Bullmastiff breed. I am a board member of the California Bullmastiff Fanciers club, a member of the American Bullmastiff Association, and a 2020 ABA National committee chairperson. I am also very active in local char- ity events. When I get involved in a project, interest or hobby, I am all in! I love working with people and helping others whenever I can. I try my best to “pay forward” good will to others as a way of thanking the incredible people who have mentored me in my life- long journey with dogs. How important are the head and body proportions in the Bull- mastiff? Both are extremely important. When breeding Bullmas- tiffs, it is essential that form follows function. The function of the 19th century Bullmastiff was to serve as the English gamekeeper’s dog. His job was to protect the game on large estates and assist in capturing poachers without mauling them. The Bullmastiff was developed to have a moderate, well-proportioned structure that allowed the dog to track and cover ground quickly. The moderate, square head with the wide under jaw aided the Bullmastiff when knocking down and pinning poachers. This working dog was a family member that came in every night to lie by the fire. His devo- tion and reliable temperament were crucial characteristics in the Bullmastiff ’s development. Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? I would say no. There are many times I’m approached and asked, “What kind of mixed breed is that?” Or, “Is that the Turn- er and Hooch dog?” Or, “Look, Mom! It’s the dog from the Sandlot movie?” Is there a color preference/prejudice in the show ring? During my 30 years of exhibiting Bullmastiffs, I have noticed that fawns, red fawns, and reds do the most winning. Regrettably, the brindle, which was the foundation color in England and provided natural camouflaging, is not as frequently rewarded. The biggest misconception in the breed? Bullmastiffs do not get nearly enough credit for their intelligence and loyalty. Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dis- pel? Yes, the misconception is that Bullmastiffs are just big, sloppy, couch potatoes that lack the capability and/or aptitude for earning working dog titles. This is farthest from the truth! Extremely intel- ligent dogs! I’m proud to say I know several owners and their dogs that are stellar in this area. What special challenges do breeders face in the current econom- ic and social climate? Wow, these days we are faced with challenges in our world that few of us could ever have imagined. Covid-19 has changed all of our lives in one way or another. Some of us have and will be more profoundly affected by personal losses than others. My basic nature is to be an optimist. My response to this crisis is to encourage people to reach out and band together as we never have before. If we are to return to any degree of normalcy in the months to come, we must work together. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I start watching my puppies at around five weeks. I begin evaluating puppies at eight weeks and continue to evaluate them up to one year of age. During this time, I am mindful of temperament, conforma- tion, breed type, head piece, and balance. Most breeders make our best estimates of show potential between seven and eight weeks. The most important thing about the Bullmastiff dog for a new judge to keep in mind? The Bullmastiff Breed Standard was writ- ten to be the criterion for our breed. The headpiece, specifically the muzzle, was not intended to be long or narrow. The Bullmastiff
What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? The Breed Standard reads: “Other things being equal, the more substantial dog within these limits is favored.” It should be understood that this does not mean that bigger is better. It means that, with animals of equal merit, the larger dog within the Standard’s guidelines is to be favored. Our Breed Stan- dard describes a Bullmastiff within ideal weight and height param- eters. Dogs should weigh between 110 and 130 pounds and stand between 25 and 27 inches at the withers and bitches should be from 100 to 120 pounds and 24 to 26 inches at the withers. Sometimes a slightly bigger or a bit smaller dog may be the better animal. Size is by no means the only thing that makes a Bullmastiff a Bullmastiff. What’s the best way to attract newcomers to our breed and to the sport? We were very lucky as newcomers. So many people were so welcoming. We would wish that for anyone wanting to learn about Bullmastiffs. We found a wonderful mentor and also met many other fanciers who reached out to us and made us part of their community. We hope that we never forget what it was like to be the new kids and what it is like to have friends with whom to ask questions, share ideas, and celebrate our dogs. Inclusion and information are the means by which we can ensure that new people choose to become fellow fanciers. Our ultimate goal for the breed? We hope that the Bullmastiffs of the future are the products of the wealth of education and experi- ence available to breeders today. We have depended so much on the veterans of the breed who came before us. So many breeders have been incredibly generous in educating us and in sharing their expe- riences. We have achieved our success because of their dedication and desire to mentor us as much or more as by our own work. We all need to be mentors, for the good of our breed. Someday, we hope to look back and feel as though we left the breed a little better than we found it, that our dogs contributed mental and physical health to the breed, as well as correct conformation, and that we played a small role in sound Bullmastiffs for the future. Our favorite dog show memory? That also depends upon which one of us answers the question. We had a recent Best In Specialty Show win with a young bitch we bred at the Celtic Cluster in York, Pennsylvania, that we mentioned earlier. As breeder/owner-han- dlers, we won’t soon forget that win with Gilda. The Bullmastiff is not for everyone. We have found their stead- fast nature and independent spirit to be among their most admi- rable qualities, but for some people those traits have the potential to translate as stubbornness and intractability. Our mentor told us when we were new Bullmastiff owners that we should train the pup- py to be the dog we wanted to share our home with for the next ten years. Bullmastiffs are independent workers–they were bred to be. So if they are given few guidelines and little training, those adorable wrinkly-faced puppies will take as much control as they can and make their own rules. We have fostered a number of Bullmastiffs as rescue volunteers and so many of them are adolescents or young adults whose owners did not invest the necessary time and energy in training.
PAMHENSON People who know me say that I smile—a lot! Most of the reasons behind those smiles I owe to my two beautiful children, Jamie and Justin; my family; and my cherished friends. I was born and raised in California, and I have been owned by dogs all my life. I have been blessed that my children
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